Wonder Woman (2017) 2hr 21 min Rating: PG-13 Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Patty Jenkins Screenwriters: Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, Jason Fuchs
There are many parts to a film, from the script to the acting, the sets and scenes, wardrobe and editing choices, and choreography and musical arrangements. When all come together in unison, that’s magic. It’s reflected back when going to the theater and being enveloped by a movie, from beginning to end. It’s everything. The hallmark feeling every movie-goer should hope for.
Hope, belief, and love are all parts of the first live-action, stand-alone film of Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins. It’s a great adaptation of the super-heroine who has endured for over seventy-five years as a cultural icon. There’s also drama and action!
The beginning of the film might make you feel lost, or not if you didn’t see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice beforehand. That’s cool. You just need to understand Wonder Woman was in that film, and that’s when she met Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent. She was in the trailer for that movie, so I don’t consider it a spoiler. I mention it, so you’ll get why she’s interacting with Wayne Enterprises, and you are not confused. That film was hit or miss for some fans. You can check out my review on it.
What is an absolute hit is Lilly Aspell, the young Scottish actress that portrays young Diana. She is such a delight! For such a young actress, she is believable as Diana. Her energy, determination, and delivery are so on point. Anyone who has kids or has ever been around them understands not many have the temperament to be actors. Which is not the same as your kid being a ham. I’m sure many would have looked the part, but Lilly Aspell is the perfect precocious child to have been cast. I saw her in one of the film trailers with this “challenge accepted” face on, and I laughed. I knew I would enjoy her in the film right then.
Other casting choices that are marvelous are the actresses that play any of the Amazonian roles. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Their costumes are modeled after the ones in history; they are accurate iterations of the outfits used in ancient times. Thousands of years ago, or today in a film, being a ‘warrior’ takes work—a lot of it. Being on horseback and doing what they do remind me of Dothraki fighters from HBO’s Game of Thrones, but these women are way more impressive! Okay, it’s remarkable choreography and editing skills that make it seem natural, too, but I’ll take it.
Frankly, the stunt doubles/people in cinema are under-sung heroes in their own right. When actors, especially in action-heavy films, get awards for their performances, their stunt doubles should get one too. They do an incredible amount of work to make the cast look as they do. I want you to consider that for the rest of this film, or anything else you ever watch.
Another incredible film component is picking out locations to film at. If you’re like me, you’d want to visit Paradise Island! Themyscria itself is idyllic. It’s so old, yet clean. The scale of it cinematically is an excellent vision of how it has always been depicted. The best part is that it’s not entirely CGI. All the scenes for the island were mainly shot on multiple beaches and coastline in Italy. Update your translator app and back a bag! I’m totally pumped about this movie, and at this point, you would be like five minutes in.
Speaking of being “in,” if you are not familiar with Wonder Woman’s backstory or Greek mythology, that’s okay. Patty Jenkins’s portrayal of it deviates absolutely from actual Greek mythos in many ways. However, it’s still done so well you will follow along, okay. If you are familiar with either, it may bother you, so be prepared. Just go with it. There’s nothing you can do. It was apart of DC’s revamp ten years ago when they introduced the “new 52” to all their lineups. I like the storyline from the animated series Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited from 2001-2004. You should defiantly check that out!
Connie Nielsen is a Danish actress who plays Queen Hippolyta. Otherwise known as Diana’s mother. Her origin change is very much tied to Dianas in the revamp. She may be Queen, but her sister, Antiope, is the General of the Amazonian army played by American actress Robin Wright. Both ooze formability, confidence, loyalty, and perfection in their respective roles. Another staple in Wonder Woman history is the character Steve Trevor, played by American actor Chris Pine. Steve Trevor comes along for the ride in Jenkins’s version in a go-with-the-flow attitude when he meets Diana. Like everything she tells him doesn’t freak him out, which I find odd in a setting of 1918… but it works. The dynamic allows for softer moments, humorous moments, and room to let the filmmaker show off some of Diana’s lesser-used but cool abilities.
There is this slow build-up from the beginning of the film where you are shown how Diana thinks and feels about things. How she responds to people and situations and handles a crisis. She embodies a kind, ethical, strong, brave, selfless, trusting, moral, intelligent, loving person. Even as she discovers what she is, she doesn’t lose any of it. Then there is this moment when you see her, finally, as Wonder Woman. Perfection! It is your comic book heroine alive on screen. I hissed “yes!” with excitement in my theater seat.
Those of you who are Zack Snyder fans will feel his influence on the story, particularly near the end. It doesn’t last long and blends right back in with the original tone of the movie. I was grateful for that in light of how Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice turned out.
Another influence you will notice throughout the film is the camera work. Some movies action sequences are so hard to follow along with. The choreography and camera work make it so the viewer can’t see the potential for how awesome a fight scene could be. I’ve seen plenty of movies where I can’t tell what’s going on because everything is dark, rushed, or blurry. Or all of the above. This film shoots it’s action sequences, so you don’t get eye strain. In fact, there are a few times where it is slowed down so you can appreciate the scene in front of you. However, it’s not just for that. Like many films, Wonder Woman was shot to utilize 3D. You can view either version, in case you were wondering.
So, should you put Wonder Woman on your watch list? Absolutely! Grab some snacks, and do it. This is a movie everyone should see. This is how DC should do their films.
-a pen lady